Study evaluates offshore wind manufacturing sites
By: JENNETTE BARNES, SOUTH COAST TODAY
NEW BEDFORD — A new report details how much it would cost to ready each of 18 Massachusetts sites for offshore wind manufacturing, staging, and operations.
Commissioned by the publicly funded Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and released on Tuesday, the 415-page engineering study lets developers compare the investments necessary for a particular function, such as turbine manufacturing, across different locations. The report includes six locations in New Bedford, six in Boston, three in Fall River, two in Somerset, and one on the Quincy-Braintree line.
In New Bedford, for example, it shows that preparing to manufacture turbine blades would cost $40.6 million at Revere Copper, $69.1 million at Eversource/Sprague, and $100.5 million at North Terminal, but only $21.7 million at Hathaway Mills. Hathaway Mills has no water access but is only 1,000 feet south of the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, the expected launching point for vessels headed to wind installations off Massachusetts. Other New Bedford sites are the State Pier and Whale’s Tooth parking lot & New Bedford railyard.
Brayton Point in Somerset is notable for its large size at 307 acres, but the cost to redevelop and reuse it would be relatively high — $102.2 million for manufacturing of turbine blades.
Bill White, senior director for offshore wind at the Clean Energy Center, said the goal of the report is to make it easy for investors to choose Massachusetts.
“This is an exciting time as the industry starts to establish itself,” he said.
The three bidders for Massachusetts’ first commercial offshore wind contract have already committed to using the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal as a staging and deployment point. But locations for manufacturing, storage, and operations remain up in the air.
The report gives individual data for manufacture of turbine foundations, towers, blades, and nacelles (the hub of the turbine, which houses the generator).
For each location and business purpose, it provides the estimated redevelopment cost and reuse cost. Redevelopment includes demolition of existing facilities, excavation, and grading. Reuse represents construction of new buildings, but not acquisition of manufacturing equipment, according to Craig Gilvarg, a spokesman for the Clean Energy Center.
For blade manufacturing, East Boston Shipyard came in at $29.1 million in total costs, and Parcels M and M-1 in the Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park in South Boston came in at $27.9 million.
The Standard-Times tried to reach Boston’s economic development chief, John Barros, but he was not available by deadline.
Each location offers different strengths in terms of size, water access, water depth, load-bearing capacity, and proximity to the wind installation areas.
Close proximity is critical for operations and maintenance, but less so for manufacturing, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said. He said his goal is to make the city home to the entire cluster of offshore wind businesses, so companies feel like they need a presence in New Bedford.
Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, speaker pro tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, said New Bedford is uniquely positioned and will probably get most of the operations and maintenance work, but manufacturing could be a different story.
With the massive waterfront access at Brayton Point — possibly the largest in the northeast, according to White — the Somerset site has a lot of potential, Haddad said.
“The opportunity to turn that into what some company actually wants is greater than places where their ports are already up and running and have designated activities,” she said.
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia could not be reached for comment. An assistant said he had been in meetings and did not have a chance to respond.
Erich Stephens, CEO of Vineyard Wind, called the report an important contribution to the industry.
White said a big part of what makes New Bedford appealing is that the harbor entrance has no bridge, and therefore no height restrictions. That makes New Bedford one of the better harbors in the northeast, he said.
Hathaway Mills and Eversource/Sprague have drawn significant interest because of their proximity to the terminal, he said.